Chapter 14

Randall stayed with the Titans for several weeks, apparently recuperating from his time spent with Slade. He slept often, ate when he was hungry, and exercised when his muscles felt the need to move. He could tell that Robin was worried about him, so one evening when the other Titans were occupied in watching a movie, Randall found Robin and asked if they could go somewhere private to talk.

"Sure," Robin said, surprised. "We can go to the roof." And so they did, going up to the roof and breathing the sea air in before taking seats.

"I can tell you've been worried about me," Randall said when the silence became a little much. "Can you tell me why?"

Robin looked him in the eye. "You escaped from Slade when you were a kid, and then he kidnapped you again and locked you up. I can't imagine what that was like, really. I'm worried because you sleep so much. Why?"

Randall looked thoughtful. "I guess because it's a defense mechanism. If I think too much about Slade and what he did to me, I just get myself to go to sleep. I stop thinking then, and I start dreaming good things. That's all it is. Did you think Slade had hurt me in some way?"

"Yeah," Robin admitted. "I mean, he's able to do so much and hurt us in a lot of ways. He could have done something to you."

"Not that I know of," Randall assured him, smiling. "All I know is, Slade's making me very happy right now."

Robin looked at him, alarmed. Had Slade managed to do a number on Randall's mind after all? "He is?"

Randall nodded, grinning. "He's in Arkham, paying for his crimes at last and hating every moment of it!"

Robin burst out laughing; Randall's happiness was too infectious to ignore. Although both young men knew that it would only be a matter of time before Slade began to cause trouble again, for the moment, it was enough to enjoy the peace and quiet.


Slade had timed it all very carefully. Using a mold that had been growing on his walls, he had been able to create a knock-out gas that would effectively incapacitate the guards. An incubation period of a few weeks made it all the more potent. All he had to do was blow a little of the spores in their direction, and it would be only a few seconds before they would collapse to the floor, unconscious. Then, once the guards were out of his way, he had to make it outside the compound. That was pathetically easy: Up and over the walls, and he would be gone. They would never find him before he found a mode of transportation that would take him to a place where he could recuperate and gather his forces. It would take time to work his way back to his former level of power, but he would manage. He would not allow anything to stop him, nor would he become frustrated or give up. He intended to take the Titans, Batman, and Randall down, and he intended to do so in such a way that it would be impossible for them to get back up again.

The whole plan went off without a problem: He had incapacitated every guard who had come running (and that was a good number of them) and made his way outside. The wall presented no difficulty since it was old, made of brick, and therefore, easy to climb. He'd stolen the first car he'd come to (a very ugly thing, but one made do with what one had) and driven to the Titans' city. Once there, he made his way to a stronghold the Titans knew nothing about and luxuriated in being in his old and familiar haunts. The first order of business was to get everything up and running, and then he would get Karlton out of prison. The man had given him many years of faithful service, and such loyalty carried its own rewards, after all.

The computer system took about five weeks to repair. By that time, news of his escape had traveled all over the world, and he knew the Titans were patrolling the city around the clock and in shifts. They were even going to the stronghold where he'd held Robin and the base of operations that he'd shared with Terra in attempts to find him, but Slade took a good deal of pleasure in not being there to greet them. They were being maddened by his refusal to show himself in any way: no crimes, no plots, nothing. Slade intended to keep them off-balance and guessing. Besides, he did not have time to play games with the Titans. He had to fix everything that Randall had ruined.

Slade was still confused as to how Randall had managed to take down his system, but he found himself grudgingly admiring the fact that the boy had had the temerity to strike at him in such a way. Incredible. Slade had thought he'd broken the boy, but if Randall had managed to fight back, then that hadn't been the case at all. Well, perhaps he would have to try a different tactic in the future...

First, however, he had to prepare his attack and consolidate his power and assets. Then, he would strike. Once he did, there would be no hope for the Titans or Batman or Randall. He was going to make very, very certain of that.

His assets had all been seized and eliminated. All of his properties, stocks, bonds, companies. All of them had been lost. That was...not good. Not good at all. Well, he would have to manage in another way, that was all. Using a new name, he bought fifty stocks in several high-netting corporations and slowly, through hacking their systems and manipulating numbers, made the stocks worth much more than they were. Such "prosperity" induced others to begin buying stocks in an attempt to cash in, adding even more "prosperity," and then a few well-timed words on the floor at the stock market swayed each market of the corporations in his favor. He sold the stocks before their real value could be learned, and he was the happy new owner of a fortune higher than twenty million. That gave him purchasing power, so he began by purchasing small companies, expanding their profits, selling them, and then buying larger ones. By that time, six months had passed, and his fortune was in the billions. It was wonderful how money worked, wasn't it?

The advantage to taking all that time to work back to his former level was that much of the furor surrounding his escape had died down. The Titans were still patrolling, and security cameras had revealed Randall was still doing the same alongside the Titans, but the police had relaxed their guard, and that was what Slade wanted. A little anonymity. Good. Sitting down in front of a monitor, Slade sent a message to the Titans, Randall, and Batman. How would they take it?


"C'mon, dude, it's been a long day," Beast Boy was saying. "We're all tired and hungry, so I say we get pizza and chill out in front of the television for a while. We need a break."

"BB's right, Robin," Cyborg said. "We've all been working about nonstop for six months trying to find Slade, and we've come up with nada. I'd say that if he was going to do something, he would have done it by now."

Robin shook his head. "Something inside is telling me that we'd be stupid to let our guards down."

"We're not letting our guards down, we're just resting," Raven told him while Starfire nodded. "We're all burned out, and after a rest, we'll be able to think more clearly and deal with things."

"What do you think, Randall?" Robin asked, turning to their friend. When Slade had escaped, Randall had offered to stay to help them search and fight against Slade.

"I agree that we need a break," Randall said, leaning against a wall. "I can't believe I'm saying this, but I would love to collapse in front of a television for a while and forget the name 'Slade.'"

"Then it's settled," Robin said, grinning at the relief showing on all of his friends' faces. "We'll get as much pizza as we can carry and go back to the Tower and watch TV until midnight. How does that sound?"

Grins were his only answer. They got the pizza, headed back to the Tower, and then there was the usual discussion of what they would watch. Everyone was fighting over it until Robin stood up and said, "Randall? Do you want to choose?"

Randall surprised all of them by choosing a silent film called "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari." Everyone looked askance at his choice, but he answered them with a simple, "Trust me." Once the movie began to play, all of them were silent, and as the ending credits were rolling, there was a collective gasp and sigh.

"Wow," Beast Boy breathed. "That was..."

"I know," Raven said. "Incredible."

"Creepy!" Starfire cried gleefully. "Most creepy!"

"I don't think I'll ever look at carnivals the same way again," Cyborg said, still staring at the screen.

"I love this movie, but I don't know why," Randall admitted. "It just seems to draw me back to it. What do you think, Robin?"

"I'm floored. Completely. How could it have been...?"

"Well, it was," Randall answered. "Creepy, though, wasn't it?"

"Disturbing, more likely."

"Could we do a double feature?" Beast Boy wanted to know, digging through Randall's store of movies. "Hey, what's 'Nosferatu?'"

"That's a good one," Randall said. "It's kind of like Dracula."

"SWEET!" Cyborg shouted. "We're watchin' this!"

The alarm went off, frightening everyone.

"We'll watch it another night!" Robin said, heading to the computer. "There's trouble!"

As they were heading for the door, a voice behind them made them turn around. "Leaving so quickly, Titans?"

That voice made them whip around, and what they saw on their computer screen was enough to make them certain of who was the source of the trouble.


"So nice to see all of you again," Slade said kindly. "Very nice."

"What do you want?" Robin demanded.

"That would be telling, and the teacher should allow his pupils to learn for themselves," Slade said, wagging a finger.

"Okay...what?" Beast Boy whispered to Randall.

"Let me guess," Randall said, stepping forward. "You've planned something that is designed to teach us a little lesson, is that it?"

They could tell that Slade was smiling behind his mask. "Exactly. I always knew that you were very quick, Randall. Well done."

"And the purpose of that lesson would be...what exactly?" Raven said, glaring at Slade.

Slade's eyes hardened. "You locked me up in an insane asylum. You're a smart girl, Raven. Think about it."

"So you're trying to get even with us," Randall muttered. "Slade, this is really getting old."

Slade leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers. "Perhaps it is, but then again, perhaps it isn't. We'll have to see. Have fun, Titans." With that, the screen went blank.

"What do you think?" Starfire asked Robin and Randall.

"It's not good, whatever it is," Robin said while Randall nodded in agreement. "Come on. We have to go take care of whatever it is. It's at the biochemical plant."

The Titans and Randall left, certain that they would learn more of what Slade was planning once they got there. What they didn't know was that there was nothing they could do about it.